As the final speaker of MFA Art Practice’s 2015 summer Lunchtime Lecture series, artist and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Teresita Fernández spoke to a lively crowd at Madison Square Park on Tuesday, July 28, about her immersive sculpture installation, Fata Morgana, on view at the park through winter 2016.
Spanning six sections of the park’s walkways, the 500-foot-long sculpture is a patterned canopy of golden, mirror-polished metal cut in amorphous, circular shapes. Referring to an illusory horizon at sea, Fata Morgana shimmers like open water with reflections of the surrounding greenery and passersby, enticing those who look up to become lost in the interplay of light.
Rather than focus on the structural challenges of conceptualizing, building and installing such a large-scale work, Fernández spoke candidly about the inspiration and meaning of Fata Morgana, and how the sculpture’s overhead structure “uses invisibility to become visible.” Referencing her Cuban heritage, Fernández reminded the crowd of the struggles of marginalized groups, and remarked how Fata Morgana’s massive but unobtrusive structure would call attention to issues “hidden in plain sight.”
Fernández also spoke about placing such an ambitious sculpture in a busy public setting, saying, “This is not a museum. This is not a gallery. This is a community.” While admitting not everyone of the community would actively engage with the work, Fernández claimed that the power of Fata Morgana is that its size imposes itself without being noticed, distorting the landscape and affecting people without them knowing it.